A different kind of Christmas

Yes, I’m still writing about pre-Christmas stuff.  I’ll get caught up.  Eventually.  Probably.  (Maybe.  After all, I still have posts to finish about our summer vacation last year . . . and the year before.)

1062One of my favorite times of year in Vienna is the Advent season.  From mid-November through Christmastime the Christmas markets are open, the weather is cool but not overly frigid, the city is lit up to celebrate and the Viennese are enjoying the season.  I just love it.  I love to be out and about, taking care of my Christmas shopping somewhere other than the mall, visiting the different markets, decorating the house, preparing (usually) to travel home to see our families.  I just love Vienna in the Advent season.  It hasn’t yet failed to be wonderful.

But this year was different.  From the day after the first market opened in November, all the way through the day before we left to fly home to see our families for Christmas, at least one of us was sick.  There were only 2 days during the entire month of December that none of us was sick enough to have to alter our daily schedule — we had only 2 “healthy” days during the entirety of the Christmas season.

996So, it was different than usual.  There were almost no Christmas market visits (and only one together as a family).  We didn’t go out to see the Christmas lights.  We didn’t ride on the Christmas train at the Rathaus, see the decorated trees or ride the carousel.  I didn’t take the boys out to choose gifts for their teachers (or for each other).  I wasn’t able to go to the Christmas party at Benjamin’s school, and Liam wasn’t able to go to the one for his own class.  The days I had set aside to shop and pack for our trip home were superseded by trips to the pediatrician and mornings spent rushing to school to pick up boys that had seemed fine in the morning, only to be feverish by snack time.

094It was entirely different than what I expected . . . but it was no less festive.  We went out less, and we were in more.  So there were fewer red-cheeked pictures under massive Christmas trees, and more afternoons spent painting trees and snowmen onto our own windows.  There were fewer warm treats scarfed up in the chill of the market, but much more baking in our own kitchen.  The boys’ teachers got shortbread that the kids helped to make themselves instead of something chosen from a shop.  And I spent an insane 48 hours before our departure to the US in a whirlwind of laundry, packing, trips to the pediatrician and to the pharmacy.

I know I have a tendency to be ve1012ry “Pollyanna” about just about everything, but (other than the kids being sick) it wasn’t awful.  It was a good reminder.  Our Christmas season wasn’t at all what I expected, and it wasn’t full of the things I usually say I want to do during Advent.  But what we lost in bustle we made up for in peace (the last 48 hours of mad packing not withstanding).  And having to accept the utter “imperfection” (i.e., lack of adherence to my “plan”) of preparing for our trip helped to put me in the right perspective — what mattered wasn’t really whether all of the “right” socks were clean or whether we got all of our presents wrapped before we packed them, but that we were going home to see our family, who were all overjoyed to see us, regardless of the chaotic and disheveled state we arrived in.

It wasn’t the Christmas season I would have planned, but it was no less wonderful.  It was lovely just how it was.


Breaking with tradition

Well, that didn’t go how we expected.

I love Dan.  Really, I do.  But, if he had a middle name (which he doesn’t) it might well be “flaky”.  He had one job.  His parents were visiting, it was Thanksgiving, and the only thing he had to do was to make a dinner reservation.  The first time I brought it up was Halloween.  (I remember because I’d had it on my mind for weeks even before that and I thought that bringing it up more than 4 weeks ahead might be counterproductive — he might not be able to make the reservation that far ahead, and I imagined that if he tried and wasn’t successful, he might forget to call back.)

Halloween.  In October.  4 weeks ago.

I reminded him, several times.  I tried not to harp on it, but I’d ask, once a week or so, if he’d gotten the reservation.  No luck.  He kept telling me he’d do it, that we had plenty of time, and that we didn’t need to make the reservation so far ahead.

But, as happens with these kinds of things, we suddenly went from “having plenty of time” to having almost no time.  He didn’t get around to emailing the restaurant until the night before, and when he didn’t hear back, he finally called around lunchtime on Thanksgiving.  But then it was too late — they didn’t have room for us.  We tried a few of the other restaurants around here.  They couldn’t find a spot for us, either.

057So.  There we were, with Dan’s parents visiting, with no plans for dinner on Thanksgiving.  Yikes.

So, we made a plan B.  Dan went to the store, bought some food and made a very nice dinner.  We had roast pork with sweet potatoes and pears.  It was great, and really very Thanksgiving-y.  After dinner, we still did go out for our “traditional” evening trip to a Christmas market.  We had a lovely, festive meal, and a nice day.  It wasn’t what we had planned, it wasn’t quite what we’d expected, but it was still a good day.